Essays and Features

Persecution Complex: Arab Intellectuals Remain Apart from Arab Spring

By 
Michael Teague

Whether in Egypt or in Syria, intellectuals are rarely paid any attention by the state, and the reason for this is that they have never been allowed to be part of a civil society.

The “Arab Spring”-- the new sensational shorthand employed by frenzied observers and scholars to describe the massive cry for freedom in the Middle East-- has shown not only the cruel nature of the Arab state in its treatment of ordinary citizens, now constantly on display on Arab satellite TV stations, new media outlets, and press reports, but also its humiliating treatment of Arab intellectuals.  As painful and positively nauseating as it is to see this reflexive practice of torturing and terrorizing protestors, it is much more immediately comprehensible and a little less complex than wha

The Other Prison

By 
MOHAMMAD ALI ATASSI

Can one understand the experience of being a prisoner without ever being in a prison cell? This question might seem strange at first, but those who have met and talked with the family members of political prisoners in Syria will definitely know the answer.

Can one understand the experience of being a prisoner without ever being in a prison cell? This question might seem strange at first, but those who have met and talked with the family members of political prisoners in Syria will definitely know the answer. In a recent article, my friend and a colleague, Yassin al-Hajj Salih (in An Anahar Literary Supplement, June 27, 2004), accurately describes life inside prison, calling for bringing the prison experience into the light, in all its different aspects, until nothing remains unknown or overburdened with suppressed memory.

Iraqi Actor Jawad Shukraji on Childhood, Working Under Saddam and His Recent TV Series

By 
Rebecca Joubin

When you think back on your childhood, what is the first thing that strikes you?

I was born in Baghdad in 1951 near the shrine of Abdel Ghader al-Gaylani, a Sunni holy man. My mother was from Karbala and my father from Najaf. I was born Shii, yet I spent the early days of my childhood near this Sunni holy shrine.

When you think back on your childhood, what is the first thing that strikes you?

Clearing a Path for Mainstream Arab-American Literature

By 
Andrea Shalal-Esa

Arab-American literature was already growing by leaps and bounds in the late 1990s, but the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacking attacks fueled an upsurge of interest in all things Arab and Muslim and helped broaden the mainstream appeal of poetry and prose by American authors of Arab descent. More Arab-American writers are getting published, and their work is finding its way into more anthologies of women’s writing and other postcolonial collections, albeit slowly. Challenges remain, to be sure, but we are watching a vibrant new genre of Arab-American literature emerge after a century of struggle for recognition. 

Arab-American literature was already growing by leaps and bounds in the late 1990s, but the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacking attacks fueled an upsurge of interest in all things Arab and Muslim and helped broaden the mainstream appeal of poetry and prose by American authors of Arab descent. More Arab-American writers are getting published, and their work is finding its way into more anthologies of women’s writing and other postcolonial collections, albeit slowly.

New Media and the Arab Spring

By 
Michael Teague

The widespread unrest that has gripped the Middle East in recent months came as a shock, even to those of us who follow the region closely from afar.  

 

The widespread unrest that has gripped the Middle East in recent months came as a shock, even to those of us who follow the region closely from afar.  This is not so much because the events were unforeseeable or impossible, but rather because it was difficult to create a mental image of a successful massive popular uprising, much less several of them at once.  Most likely out of despair, we had come to believe in the sadistic efficacy of ruling families and their dreaded Mukhabarat.  Many of these leaders, if they may be so-called, have held the reins of power for several decades w

The Veiling of the City

By 
Muhammad Ali Atassi

Many visitors to Damascus today are amazed to see how the practice of veiling has become so widespread, especially when compared to twenty or thirty years ago. 

Many visitors to Damascus today are amazed to see how the practice of veiling has become so widespread, especially when compared to twenty or thirty years ago. It is as if the veil has imprinted the Syrian capital with its image. This is the case in the city’s streets and markets, its restaurants and parks, its schools and universities, its public offices and private companies, not to mention the homes that confine women within their walls in the name of the veil.

I Mourn my Wife and Friend, Samira Chalala

By 
Elie Chalala

During the past 16 years of Al Jadid, I have not once allowed the personal to intrude upon the pages of this magazine.

Right

During the past 16 years of Al Jadid, I have not once allowed the personal to intrude upon the pages of this magazine.  However, I am making an exception to reflect on the loss of my wife, Samira Chalala, who was killed as she was crossing the street on her way home from work on February 24th, 2010.

The New Christian Question

By 
Michael Teague

The December 2009 issue of Qantara, the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe’s magazine of Arab culture, is devoted almost exclusively to a reassessment of the current predicament of Christians in the Arab world. Whereas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Christians found themselves at the forefront of the Arab nationalist movement and were instrumental in helping significant portions of the Arab world to appropriate and benefit from modern political, cultural and artistic developments, today the case could not be more different.

Remembering Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir

By 
Lisa Suhair Majaj

Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir, who passed away within weeks of each other last spring,

Michael Suleiman and Evelyn Shakir, who passed away within weeks of each other last spring, left behind legacies of dedication and intellectual achievement that will be long remembered. As scholars and writers of distinction, each made a significant impact on the field of Arab-American studies. And each offered inspiring visions of what Arab America has offered and what it might become. 

“Imaginary Homelands”—Lebanese American Prose

By 
Evelyn Shakir

I take my title from an essay by Salman Rushdie, in which he reflects on the need many expatriates, exiles, and just plain emigrants feel to look over their shoulder at the land that they have left behind and that now seems lost to them. And, if they’re writers, to try to recreate it in the literature they produce. But Rushdie issues a warning:  “We will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost.” Instead, “we will create fictions, not actual cities or villages but invisible ones, imaginary homelands.”

I take my title from an essay by Salman Rushdie, in which he reflects on the need many expatriates, exiles, and just plain emigrants feel to look over their shoulder at the land that they have left behind and that now seems lost to them. And, if they’re writers, to try to recreate it in the literature they produce.

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